Review: The Forest

| January 8, 2016

movie-review-The-Forest

No matter how hard she tried, “Game of Thrones” actress Natalie Dormer could not save “The Forest,” a supernatural thriller set in a Japanese wilderness where troubled souls go to die.

When I watched the film’s first trailer, I was a bit intrigued. It has been almost a decade since Hollywood stopped feverishly adapting Japanese horror films for American audiences, and I was happy to let them give it another go. After all, “The Ring” is still a great movie.

Well, as it turns out, “The Forest” is not a Japanese import. It’s an original American film which relies on foreign imagery it doesn’t seem to fully understand and jump scares that are more obligatory than frightening.

Dormer plays twin sisters, Sara and Jess. Jess wanders into the Aokigahara Forest where people go to commit suicide, and Sara ventures in to find her.

The scares are tame, a result of the movie’s PG-13 rating. I can only assume the rating was sought in an attempt to grab the teen audience, but I doubt the movie will gather much of an audience, teen or otherwise.

“The Forest” is, sadly, just plain dull. Film makers usually want viewers to walk away from a movie with some sort of emotional response. The only thing I walked away with was two questions: Is the suicide forest a real place, and how in the world does Sara’s cellphone stay charged in the wilderness for 48 hours?

Yes, the Aokigahara Forest real. It is nestled at the base of Mount Fuji and is among the top three suicide spots in the world.

But as far as Sara’s cellphone goes, I found its battery more supernatural than the random spirits in “the Forest.”

Dormer acts her heart out, but she can’t get past some of the film’s clunkier dialogue and seemingly forced thematic connections to her family’s troubled past.

January is a notorious dumping ground for films studios don’t have much faith in. I don’t know if “The Forest” is one of those movies, but I can’t help but think that perhaps it too should have been left out in the woods to die.

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